I love a quiet laptop
I love a quite laptop with no hard drives or fans spinning. It’s easy to get there with an SSD and Linux.
Debian 11 on a Mid-2011 Apple iMac 27-inch
A 2011 iMac runs horribly with out-of-date MacOS but great with Debian Stable.
The 2021 Linux laptop rebuild
CentOS Stream 8 — a controversial yet boring Linux — would be my new operating system After holding up due to indecision, I went ahead with the Linux laptop rebuild. I decided to give CentOS Stream 8 a try. It’s a “hot” Linux distro. But for all the wrong reasons. I can say now that it’s technically excellent, with the extremely notable exception of an error in the Boot ISO (yes, I filed a bug) that makes it impossible to proceed before figuring out and manually entering a URL for a working mirror and then a regression in Mutter that killed Files/Nautilus for a day or so until I figured out a workaround.
Pausing the Linux rebuild
I was all ready to crack open the HP Envy 15 laptop this afternoon, pull the 250 GB NVMe M.2 SSD and replace it with a 1 TB model. While in there, I planned to replace the battery, which has a dead cell. But I decided to press “pause.” I started running Linux on this particular laptop in 2019 (??) with Debian Stable (then Buster), replacing it with Testing (Bullseye) maybe a couple of months ago.
Backups in Linux: I keep it simple
The next step in putting a new hard drive into my laptop is to make a full backup of the /home files. I haven’t done a full-image Clonezilla-style backup in a long, long time, and I do recommend it it you have a spare drive and a lot of spare time. Instead I just back up my user files. I have two working Linux computers right now, and if I need to rebuild one, I can do a reinstall and get my preferred applications set up fairly quickly.
Reinstalling a Linux computer system: Step by step
I’m about to put a new hard drive and battery in my main laptop, a 2017 HP Envy 15. Whenever I make a change like this, I like to be ready with backups, Linux install images on USB drives and whatever tools and parts I might need. I’m not as worried about running into problems because I now have a very decent second computer — the 2011 27-inch iMac running Debian Buster — if the laptop isn’t ready right away, I’ll still be able to work.
I’m not opposed to nonfree firmware in Debian, but I removed it, and my laptop still runs fine
The debate over whether to include nonfree firmware in the Debian installer has emerged from the depths of the debian-devel mailing list under the title “Making Debian available.” The gist of this extremely long e-mail thread (and Debian is a mailing list culture, despite attempts to pull it into the 21st century is that the Debian Project is hostile to new users because its standard install images do not include nonfree firmware, and installations on most laptops will go poorly because the Linux kernel and free firmware might not support their WiFi or display systems.
Ruby gems: Using Linux/BSD packages vs. gem install
As a Ruby user and programmer, I thought that Linux distributions and BSD projects offered packaged versions of Ruby gems to add sanity and stability to a computer. The problem is that every distribution and project packages a different subset of all the Ruby gems available. I’ve always tried to use as many “packaged” gems as possible in the systems I run — chiefly Debian and Fedora Linux, along with OpenBSD.
Why CentOS Stream and the end of CentOS Linux doesn’t really matter
There were clones of — or more accurately downstream projects based on — Red Hat Enterprise Linux before Red Hat bought CentOS in 2014. CentOS started in 2006, and there have been other distributions based on RHEL. (My favorite is still Nux’s Stella from the CentOS 6 days.) There are many (many!) other Linux distributions and BSD projects that can supply a server or desktop operating system. Most of them are not owned by corporations that can limit their distribution on a whim.
CentOS Stream and the end of the CentOS clone: perils, pitfalls, risks and opportunities for Red Hat
<img src="/images/centos_logo.png" style=“float: right”;> Red Hat unleashed the kraken with its recent announcement that its CentOS 8 clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux would be shut down in 2021 instead of 2029, to be replaced by the newish CentOS Stream 8. What is CentOS Stream? It is a reimagining of CentOS as a continuously delivered yet version-constrained development distribution that tracks ahead of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 yet stays within the RHEL 8 world from an ABI1-compatibility standpoint.
How this Debian Stable user ended up with Google Chrome from Google’s repository
Update: On Jan. 1, 2021, an updated Chromium package moved into the Debian Stable repository. Hopefully it will also become part of the Testing repo and appear in the next Debian release. The original post follows: I guess I knew that the Chromium web browser — the code from the open-source project that is still coded by Google people but isn’t fully Googled— was very out of datein the Debian Stable repository.
Vim tip: Open the last file you closed with :e#
I can’t believe I didn’t learn this earlier because now I do it all the time: If you close a file, as I often do with :bd, to open the last file you closed, type e# in command mode: :e# The last closed file opens in your current window. This is great for me because in my editing workflow, I have a story budget from one directory in one window, and I work on stories from a different directory in another.
Upgrading my now-dying 2012 laptop to Fedora 32 probably won’t happen
My 2012 HP Pavilion g6 laptop’s keyboard and touchpad are working intermittently. I’ve already replaced the keyboard twice. They are crazy cheap to buy (and also cheap in quality), but I’m tired of doing it. Not sure what is wrong with the touchpad, but it’s about time to cut my losses. The laptop has run Fedora for a LONG time. It is now on F30. It has gone through many upgrades between about 2013 and 2019.
Ruby gtk3 GUI applications ARE cross-platform
I’ve been intermittently struggling and totally forgetting about the best way to create cross-platform GUI applications. I’ve veered between Tk for Ruby or Python, JavaFX and Qt. I recently stumbled on GTK3 in Ruby, and I’ve been going through a couple of tutorials in an attempt to figure it out. Since I’m back on Debian Stable for 90 percent of my computing, I figured I’d give GTK3 a try. I knew that you could run GTK apps in Windows (and presumably also on MacOS), but maybe I’d have to resort to exotic packaging to make it happen.
Printing in Debian 10: CUPS isn’t in the default desktop if you forget to check the box during installation
I haven’t had the occasion to print anything in Debian 10 Buster in the couple of weeks that I have been running it, but today is the day. I knew from the release notes that Debian 10 included “driverless” printing, but I couldn’t find any printers in GNOME Setings, even though I have a wireless printer on my local network. The reason? I didn’t have CUPS. I had forgotten to check the “print server” box during my installation.
Debian 10 Buster with GNOME 3: I didn’t expect it to be this fast, but that could be the SSD talking
I don’t know how much of it is Debian 10 and how much is swapping a 5400-RPM hard drive with an M.2 NVMe SSD, but my 2-year-old laptop is FLYING now that I’ve ditched Windows 10 and the 1 GB magnetic drive that came with it. And this is with GNOME 3. The stock or lightly/heavily-favored desktop environment in Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu looks great, runs with no hesitation (in constrast to Windows 10) and doesn’t have me thinking that I need anything else for speed-related reasons.